Is Yoga just for Chics?

Ummm NO.

One of the most prevalent yoga myths is that yoga is only for women. This is honestly one of the craziest myths – especially considering that ancient yoga was a male-dominated practice. It was created for 14-year-old boys people!! Women were not even able to practice it. Now that being said, the West has changed yoga in a plethora of ways; some may say it better, some may say it has lost its way.

I digress…

Why do men believe this idea that yoga is just for women? I don’t know, maybe it has something to do with mainstream media highlighting women in fancy yoga poses. I see why men have the idea it must be for skinny young chics but come on, we know what you see in social media is not reality.

A few other reasons they may have not boarded the yoga train: yoga isn’t a good enough workout for men; it’s too touchy-feely; you have to be flexible beforehand, and men’s bodies aren’t naturally built for these poses.

Let me make this very clear: yoga offers a tremendous array of benefits for everyone. That certainly includes our dudes.

Unfortunately, this myth leads to a disappointing statistic: of the 20 million Americans who practice yoga, less than 18% of them are men. At Yoga Fever, we have plenty of men who show up on their mats day after day. But if you’ve never given it a try, I urge you to read on to discover the many benefits of overcoming this myth. Then, pop in to try your first yoga class!

3 Great Reasons to Give Yoga a Try

Yoga extends your muscles’ range of motion: Men typically target a select group of muscles at the gym, including hamstrings, glutes, abs, and shoulders. However, these muscles can only be trained so far. And, when exercised too heavily, they can become injured. However, yoga uses your natural body weight and resistance to build lean muscle mass, which improves blood flow and helps your muscles recover faster. I highly recommend complementing your gym exercises with a regular yoga practice.

Yoga provides a full spectrum of health: Unlike most male fitness regimes, yoga views health as more than visible muscle strength. And that’s because yoga strengthens more than just the physical body. It also teaches you to calm your mind and open your heart, leading to pain-free movement, increased flexibility, and decreased symptoms of anxiety, depression, and rage.

Yoga melts away your damaging competitive spirit: While this is certainly common in women too, men are often especially haunted by an intense spirit of competition. Yoga teaches you to keep your eyes – and focus – on your own mat. All that is asked of you is that you show up willing to respect the needs of your body, knowing that your worth has nothing to do with the person next to you.

Tips for Men Starting Yoga

Don’t force the movement: Many men have a gift of strength, but a tendency to work their body too hard, ignoring pain and discomfort. When you step on your mat, I encourage you to identify the difference between sensation and pain, learning when to modify to protect your body.

Focus on what’s working: You may not feel comfortable in certain poses, but powerful and masterful in others. Know that yoga is a practice where you have permission to take what you need. There will be no drill Sargent barking orders or requiring you to do anything you’re uncomfortable with!

Set aside your competitive spirit: As I mentioned before, know that you might not be the best yogi in the room. It’s time to get accustomed to that. The only thing you should be worried about is improving your own practice. And, sometimes, you may have to take a step backward before making progress.

Dump your belief that you must already be flexible: Thinking you have to be flexible to try yoga is like saying you have to be in shape to go to the gym or know how to cook to take a cooking class. The truth is, practicing yoga regularly will help you become more flexible over time.

Yoga truly is a strong, energetic, and challenging workout. But too many men never make it past that first-class or even show up at all. You may enter your first class as a skeptic, but I promise if you give it a few tries you’ll leave a sweaty convert! Oh, and one more tip—— yoga will improve your golf game by a mile. Now……who’s with me?

photo courtesy of wandering soul collective

Building Heat in the Body with the Practice of Yoga

When we’re cold, our circulation decreases, which leads to constriction in the muscles and joints. Though I know how tempting it can be to avoid the snowy roads and stay snuggled up on your cozy couch, winter weather is actually one of the best times to keep up a consistent yoga practice. Through our practice, we develop an internal heat to keep us warm, happy, and healthy.

I suggest focusing on four specific practices this season: develop strong, consistent breath; work those abs until they burn; consume Ayurveda-friendly warm, seasonal foods and get yourself to the nearest hot yoga room.

Strong Breath

Kapalabhati is a cleansing breath technique in which you start in a comfortable seated position with a tall spine. Draw in a long inhale, then exhale forcefully from your lower belly. Continue pushing breath outward in this way without inhaling – the inhale happens naturally, I promise!

Focus on exhaling over and over again, starting with a steady pace before moving faster. After about 20 repetitions, exhale all your air out and draw in another deep breath. Slowly sigh it out. You can repeat this breathing style twice more, allowing for that important rested breath between rounds.

This breathing style removes carbon dioxide from your lungs and brings energy into your body.

Core Strength

Heat is created from your body’s furnace, located in the belly center. In yoga, we call this area the Manipura chakra, which is connected to the element of fire. Any work done in your core area will provide warmth. In the winter, we like to spend time prepping the body before diving into the more difficult core exercises.

We may start with abdominal exercises that keep the spine fully supported by the floor. We’ll move into a couple rounds of Locust pose, while focusing on a very regulated breath. You’ll often find yourself in navasana (boat pose) later in class. Seated forward folds are sometimes used in the cooling portion of class, as we focus on contracting the belly on each exhale.

Nutritional Support

The sister science of yoga, Ayurveda, states that “like attracts like.” This means that the kapha and vata doshas tend to become aggravated during our dark, cold Michigan winters. The climate is simply too similar to their natural qualities. If you’re finding yourself experiencing many colds, poor circulation, joint pains, or negative emotions, try some of these tips.

Definitely eat plenty of soups, stews, cooked vegetables, and grains. Avoid cold salads and sandwiches.

Start your day with a hearty, warm breakfast to feed your digestive fire. Oatmeal is a great option.

Season your foods with warming spices, such as cinnamon, black pepper, cumin, and nutmeg.

Drink warm teas, hot water with lemon, or dry red wine to encourage circulation and stimulate digestion.

If you naturally tend to eat warmer, heartier foods in the winter – like soup, stir fry, casserole, quiches, pasta – you’re on the right track! While our bodies are designed to eat more in the winter, it’s still important to select your food carefully.

The cold, dry, and dark winter months can certainly tempt us away from our practice – and excercise in general. If we fall victim to that temptation, though, we’ll experience a number of negative consequences. I challenge you this winter to use your yoga practice as a means of caring for your entire being. Challenge yourself to practice a certain amount of days each week. For at least 60 minutes, you’ll be incredibly warm and fiery!

If you would like to learn more about building heat in the body using the sister science of yoga, Ayurveda, please visit Laura Burkett at Real Food Wellness.

Hot Yoga Studio

The hot yoga studio creates a sauna like atmosphere that will naturally detoxify the body while warming the external sheath, bones, muscles, ligaments and joints. Hot yoga raises your heart rate and core temperature, which dilates blood vessels and increases circulation in your muscles—a total win when muscles are stiffer in the cold weather months. Essentially, hot yoga helps build the heat from the core to the periphery and the periphery back to the core.

If you’re interested in learning more about our hot yoga studio, please call(616) 805-3603 and speak to Brittany Sanagustin or anyone on the Yoga Fever staff. We can help guide you into a safe, cozy practice designed to keep you warm all year long!

Mastering Chaturanga

Ever heard your yoga teacher call out “chaturanga” and wonder if you’re doing it correctly? We feel you. Chaturanga Dandasana – or four-limbed staff pose – is the one yoga pose yogis love to hate. Most of us do it incorrectly or half-heartedly for years before finding the light!

Because this is such a physically and emotionally challenging pose, there’s a tendency to rush through it to get it over with. But a lack of attention is perhaps the biggest problem. While chaturanga can be a great way to tone your arms and core, your alignment needs to be spot on. Otherwise, you’ll risk shoulder or back injury.

The Benefits of Chaturanga:

Why do we put ourselves through this tough pose? There are several reasons why yoga instructors sprinkle chaturanga dandasana throughout their classes. Here are some of my favorite reasons for using chaturanga to transition between your yoga sequences.

  1. It makes your wrists stronger and more flexible.
  2. It builds muscles in your back, shoulders, and arms.
  3. It tones and stretches your core muscles.
  4. Add all of this together and it’s a great preparatory pose for arm balances and inversions

The upper-body and lower-belly strength you acquire by practicing chaturanga translates wonderfully into the power and core consciousness you need for arm balances like crow pose and side plank.

Where Most of Us Go Wrong:

It’s challenging to know when you are doing your chaturanga correctly. And since it’s a pose of repetition, it can lead to injury when performed incorrectly over and over again. Here are a couple ways even the best of us mess up our chaturangas sometimes.

  • Our hands are too close to our shoulders, causing our elbows to bend further than 90 degrees.
  • Our bodies either collapse to the ground with a saggy back or we stick our butt out toward the ceiling putting too much pressure on our shoulders.
  • Our elbows fall outward instead of hugging our core.
  • We lazily move through chaturanga, barely bending at the elbow before quickly rushing into upward dog.

How to Make Chaturanga More Accessible:

One option is to practice the pose with your knees on the floor – there’s no shame in this, friends! Closely monitor your elbow alignment. Next, recognize how deep you go as you lower yourself toward the floor, catching yourself before you begin to sag. Finally, share the strength of the pose between your upper and lower body so that your legs can ease the burden.

Still Confused?

Whether you are a seasoned yogi or a novice, each of us can benefit from stripping this pose down to its basics once in a while. So, whether you know you’re doing chaturanga wrong or you’re so darn comfortable in it that you’re starting to think you could use an extra challenge, we’ve got you! Join us at Yoga Fever for our next Chaturanga Clinic on March 18th from 1-2:15pm to learn the proper alignment, explore preparatory poses, and even how to take it to the next level by hopping or floating back into it! Sign up now – your shoulders will thank you!

How to Choose the Right Mat for Hot Yoga 

Yoga mats are a game changer when it comes to a sticky, sweaty yoga practice. Recently, I was far from my yoga home and decided to test out another hot studio. However, I did not have my favorite mat with me as I was out of town. I figured no big deal, I’ll just rent one. The studio in and of itself was fabulous. It hit most of the checks on my “list” as to what makes a great hot space.

  1. Beautiful and clean studio and lounge
  2. Adequate space to flow and breathe
  3. A teacher who was clear, creative, and enthusiastic
  4. Knowledge of alignment and body mechanics
  5. The heat was seriously on point

But one major thing missed the mark: their rental yoga mats did NOT provide appropriate grip and safety. This completely changed my practice from stellar to super disappointing.

I suppose I’ve been blessed to practice on great mats in my hot yoga practice, which has led me to take for granted the superior traction that’s necessary to have an out of body hot yoga experience. So when I tried practicing on a lesser quality mat, I was unbelievably distracted by the possibility of my downward dog being split in two from my slippery hands and feet! Let’s just say: that hot yoga experience was not my usual “you’re Wonder Woman” experience.

If you’re going to practice hot yoga, and feel like a superhero the entire time, invest in a yoga mat and/or towel that is intentionally designed to manage intense heat and sweat. Otherwise, you’re only cheating yourself because your practice will be so distracted from holding on for dear life, that you won’t be enjoying the practice (which is clearly the point).

A couple tips: Just because it has a famous brand name, doesn’t mean it’s the best for hot yoga. And resist the urge to buy a yoga mat from your local pharmacy, home goods store, or supermarket.

So, what should you look for in a hot yoga mat? 

Consider the Thickness– The weight of your yoga mat has a lot to do with how comfortable it will be. Too thin and your knee may experience pain during low lunge; too thick, you may feel a weakened connection to the floor – making you more wobbly in balancing poses.

Standard yoga mats are about ⅛ inch thick, which is a great option for hot yoga. If you know you have sensitive knees, go thicker so your yoga experience isn’t uncomfortable. If you’re always on the go, try a wafer-thin mat that you can fold up and fit in a suitcase.

Go for the Grip– There’s nothing worse than slipping and sliding around on your yoga mat during an intense, hot class. This is the exact opposite of what the practice is supposed to be doing for you. We want to take ourselves out of the world of frustration and become one with the experience at hand, not over effort to stay in place. When you shop for your perfect mat, be sure to check the material. You’re looking for a closed cell mat or one with a microfiber towel on the top and rubber base. This will keep you grounded while also absorbing your sweat. Make sure the mat description says it is used for ‘hot yoga’ and if it doesn’t do the trick (after the break in period), return it or send it back.

Don’t Skimp on the Cost– Though I’m all about saving money when possible, a high quality yoga mat is worth the splurge – especially when you’re committing to a consistent hot yoga practice. If you choose the cheapest option, it will not hold your dog and will quickly become a slip and slide. Keep the inexpensive mats for the traditional yoga room or your at home practice, not the hot space. In the hot space, it will absolutely deem useless as the minute you sweat, all grip is lost.

Choose Support- At the end of the day, your yoga mat is your safety net and your right hand man. You carry it everywhere, it rides shotgun in your car, and you shed a lot of negative energy on it. It will always catch you when you fall (unless you bought it at CVS). Choose one wisely, one that supports you 100% through every down dog and every life changing experience.

If you have any questions at all, let’s talk! Seriously, email me, call me, or stop into the studio. We sell some amazing sweaty yoga mat options at Yoga Fever that will 100% hold you in place. No, I’m not trying to sell you on a product. I’m simply trying to show you the stress-free, blissful hot yoga experience that comes with a great mat. Happy sweating!

The Perfect Gift List for Yogis

The holiday season is quickly approaching, which means you’re probably busy baking cookies, decorating your home, and buying gifts for everyone on your list. What if you have a yogi on your list? A loved one who lives and breathes the asanas and language of yoga. 

Then you may be wondering what some great gift ideas are for the yogis in your life. At Yoga Fever, we’ve rounded up some of our favorites, and we hope you’ll find something that inspires you as you purchase gifts for others or yourself!

YOGA FEVER – YOUR ONE STOP SHOP & BEYOND

Mat Cleaner– If you’ve ever stepped into a hot yoga studio, you know just how much potential for sweat (and stink) there is. Help your pals out by gifting a yoga mat cleaner. At Yoga Fever, we carry an all-natural organic oil and botanical mat cleaner from Yoga Design Lab (YDL) that is perfect for whisking away sweat from a yoga mat. For just $10 you can help a sister or brother out big time. 

Yoga Fever Tank Tops and Other Clothing– We have some awesome Yoga Fever-branded tank tops in the studio. They’re a black Eco-hybrid micro jersey racerback tank, which is the softest eco-cotton blend fabric on earth. No kidding! We also have white zip-up hoodies for women and some lightweight cotton spandex three-quarter sleeve hoodies. (On sale for $15)

Manduka Towels– When it comes to hot yoga, no one wants to slip and slide while they’re trying to settle into downward dog. Gift your friends one of our colorful Manduka Equa towels that they can lay right on top of their mat during class.

Handmade Boho Bags – You know what your stylish sister needs? One of our handmade boho bags to carry her phone, keys, and water bottle into the studio. These bags are made with some serious love from Anthony who resides over at the Heartside Ministry. He receives all of his fabric from Art Van who donates fabric to the Ministry. They are truly one of a kind! (On sale for $22)

Gift Cards If you really can’t settle on any one item, why not gift your buddy with a customizable Yoga Fever gift card? That way they can pick out exactly what they want – everyone wins!

Before you do any other shopping, be sure to pop in to see us. We have a 30% off sale running right now on our rack of branded merch, clothes and bags. 

OTHER IDEAS WE HEART

Yoga Straps– Every yogi, no matter their skill level, can use a little help from time to time to get deeper into certain poses and stretches. A yoga strap helps students reach their limbs more easily and hold poses for longer amounts of time. This is a great (and cheap!) gift idea for anyone from the yoga novice to the yoga expert.

Manduka Headbands– These nifty headbands will tame the mane of any man or woman. They come in all kinds of fun colors and patterns and offer both comfort and style, whether they’re holding back hair, wicking perspiration, or covering your eyes during savasana. Honestly, this is an easy gift for any yoga lover in your life. You can never have too many hair accessories!

Hair Tie Holder/Bracelet– Speaking of hair accessories, it may be handy for your yoga friend or family member to have a cool way to store their hair ties. This unique little gadget doubles as a hair tie holder and a stylish bracelet. Choose from gold, silver, or rose. Perfect for the friend who runs straight from work to yoga class.

S’well Bottle– When it comes to hot yoga, having a tough, hard-working water bottle is essential. Right now we’re loving S’well brand, which features an innovative array of sizes, shapes, and styles. These bottles keep water cold for up to 24 hours and don’t perspire- which means they’ll ensure the water is always ready to cool your favorite yogi off during their hot classes. You can even personalize the bottles now for a sweet added touch!

Chakra Chocolate– Everyone deserves chocolate, and we don’t like to leave anyone out. The Chakra box of chocolate contains all-natural, dairy-free, vegan ingredients so everyone can find enjoyment. The different flavors of each truffle correspond to the body’s seven energy centers, or chakras. Flavors include chai, tangerine, green tea, peppermint, pomegranate, and more! Its elegant packaging makes for the perfect hostess gift.

Yoga Pose Cookie Cutters– These fun little cookie cutters come in the shapes of several yoga poses: tree, downward dog, warrior two, and more. These are perfect for a stocking stuffer or gift exchange. If you’re lucky, your friend may even bake you some yoga-shaped cookies in the future!

The Yoga Kitchen Book– This handy book offers vegetarian and gluten-free recipes that will improve your health and increase your energy. It also teaches valuable lessons about the power of holistic eating and its ability to nourish your mind, strengthen your body, and bring more balance into your life. Perfect for that friend who’s always posting food pictures on Instagram.
Essential oils

Homesick Candles– Do you have a friend who recently made a big move to another part of the country? They might be missing the warmth and comfort of Michigan. Homesick brand candles feature custom scents that represent each of the U.S. states. For example, the Michigan one has aromas of tart cherries, rich chocolate, honeysuckle and rose, balanced with cinnamon and a sandalwood finish. Mmmm! Check out all the different scents and treat your friend to a thoughtful and sentimental gift.

If you’re a yoga lover yourself who digs any of these gift ideas, feel free to share this blog with your friends and family. I think they’ll appreciate the help!

Looking for additional ways to shop local? Check out Global Infusion for spectacular handcrafted jewelry, specialty tea blends & more. For all things organic beauty check out LORDE Beauty & Cosmetics right down the street from the studio at 1400 Wealthy. Another goody is Dime & Regal also located on Wealthy St. Happy shopping everyone!!

 

What are the Staples of Yoga Etiquette?

This week we’re getting into the nitty-gritty of studio etiquette. What are the staples of yoga etiquette that keep us flowing smoothly through our classes?

It takes a tribe to keep Yoga Fever going, and we always appreciate your consideration of these guidelines. Whether you’re a new friend or a veteran at our studio, these eight topics will help you remain respectful to your classmates, teachers, and self. 

Arrive A Few Minutes Early:

Scurrying in after class has already begun is not only stressful for you but also distracting for your classmates. Arriving 5-10 minutes before class is always a good rule of thumb. This affords you time to use the bathroom, unroll your mat, and prepare for practice. Maybe you can even throw in a few of your favorite, gentle warm-up stretches. 

Shoes Stay Outside the Studio:

In order to prevent injuries, it’s so important for us to maintain a clean, safe studio. This means keeping the rain, snow, and mud where it belongs – outside the studio. Remember to remove your shoes when you walk in the door and place them on one of the mats we keep handy. Yoga is best practiced barefoot, so kick off your socks too.

Talk to Your Teacher about Any Injuries:

One of the greatest blessings of yoga is its potential to craft routines around certain parts of our bodies, which means we have plenty of modifications up our sleeves if something’s just not feeling right on a given day. Be sure to check in with your teacher before class if you’re experiencing any injuries or soreness. We’ll help you find a practice that is safe for you.

Know When to Eliminate the Noise:

We love when our yoga students become friends and certainly encourage you to get to know your neighbor. By all means socialize before and after class! But once class starts, it’s best to focus all your attention within the four corners of your mat. Yoga class is a time of self-love and self-improvement, and we all focus best when we keep the whispering to a minimum. 

Eliminate other noises by silencing your cell phones or, better yet, leave them in a cubby outside the studio. Yoga class may be the one time all day when you’re able to fully disconnect from technology, so leave the distracting beeps and buzzes safely outside.

Sweat Happens:

It’s hot yoga for goodness sakes – yes, you’re going to sweat! At Yoga Fever, we pride ourselves about the cleanliness of our studio. Though we mop and clean between each class, we sometimes can’t get to the sweat puddles fast enough to prevent other students from encountering them on their way out the door. Do us a solid and grab a complimentary towel before heading into the studio. If you or your area gets a bit messy, a quick sweep of your towel is greatly appreciated.

Be Mindful of the Air Others Breathe:

In a hot yoga studio, even the faintest scents travel quickly. To respect your fellow classmates, stick to your gentle, hard-working deodorant rather than applying heavy perfume or cologne prior to class.

Don’t Interrupt Savasana:

Savasana is a time for stillness and deep rest that allows your body to fully receive the benefits of yoga. While we truly hope you’re able to stay for the entirety of class, we understand that sometimes you’ll have to leave early. Some yoga is always better than no yoga. But if you do have to leave early, be sure to select a spot near the exit door and be considerate about your timing. Try to make your quiet exit sometime as we make our way to the floor for final stretching poses.

What about the Embarrassing Questions?

“Can I sneak out to use the bathroom during class?” “What if my nose won’t stop running?” “Oh no, I touched my neighbor!”

Relax, we get it. Bathroom breaks are totally allowed during class, just be sure to avoid your fellow classmates as you make your exit. And try to avoid leaving during our meditation poses. Runny noses are so common, especially now in the winter months. We always have tissue boxes lying around, so feel free to grab a couple to have near your mat. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with inadvertently bumping into your neighbor during a full class. 

Embrace it. Enjoy the community, the connection, the tribe. Give each other a smile and keep on moving!
 

Why are So Many Yoga Poses Named after Animals?

Photo by BenGrantham/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by BenGrantham/iStock / Getty Images

Cats, cows, and cobras – oh my! Do you ever feel like you’re at the zoo during the middle of yoga class? Yoga asanas (or poses) include crow, eagle, downward dog, pigeon, lizard, dragon (okay, maybe that’s not a real animal), and so many others. This may lead you to ask: why are so many yoga poses named after animals?

While there is no foolproof answer, most theories revolve around the idea that ancient yogis mimicked what they saw around them. In those simpler times, it’s understandable that they would have had many encounters with various live animals. Maybe they were hunting them, avoiding them, or simply observing them. Regardless, it’s not just animals that they learned from. A number of other poses exist that resemble items around them. Think: tree, wheel, and mountain.

It appears that the ancient yogis found imitating animals to be an enlightening experience for both the body and mind.

Animals have ample opportunity to release their emotions and tension through hormonal changes in their bodies. We often call this the “fight or flight” response. For instance, snowshoe hares often face multiple predators at a time – any of whom might make them their dinner that day. Yet, they don’t get sick, they don’t die, they don’t become depressed. They continue living and reproducing. 

As humans, we often struggle to keep ourselves aligned – we do fall victim to that sickness, worry, and depression. The busyness and high stress levels we place on ourselves prevent us from becoming aware of our bodies’ sensations. 

So, it makes sense that the ancient yoga masters would have chosen to model their practice after the animals they observed – in the hopes of learning to balance their emotions and stress patterns. When we enter an animal-named pose, we both endure a physical exercise and experience a psychological exercise of embodying the symbolism of that particular animal.

Consider the cat, an expert in relaxation. On awakening from sleep, they instinctively stretch and arch their spine in both directions before softening and moving onward. Doesn’t it make sense, then, that we generally use cat as an “awakening” pose at the beginning of practice, gradually loosening our body?

Or think about the cobra as it slowly prepares itself for action. A rather vulnerable animal itself, the cobra cautiously readies itself for attack by raising its head. We, too, practice awakening our dormant energy in this pose, often using it as a prelude to a full chaturanga. 

When you think about it, many of our animal poses really do resemble the creature they’re named after. Next time your instructor calls out an animal pose, try to put yourself in that animal’s shoes (so to speak!) and consider why they do what they do. For example, dogs enter downward dog position when waking from a nap as a way to stretch. 

What’s your favorite animal pose?
 

4 Reasons Why Yoga Reduces Stress

You’re in the middle of a big project at work, your child needs to be picked up from school, and your cell phone is ringing. Not to mention the fact that you need to make dinner, clean the house, and maybe just maybe find a minute for yourself. Seriously, when can we get a darn break from this total catastrophe of life?

Stress and anxiety exist in each of our lives. It’s unavoidable and part of the human experience. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t find ways to manage or reduce the impact that stressful situations have on us. Our daily responsibilities and worries don’t need to overwhelm us. And that, friends, is where yoga comes in. 

Let’s talk about four ways that yoga reduces stress and anxiety in our lives. 

4 Reasons Why Yoga Reduces Stress

Yoga balances our body – The practice of yoga actually counteracts the influence of stress, which often drains our energy and leaves us tense, tight, and tired. Instead, yoga does wonders in reducing tension – almost like a massage does. Child’s pose is, perhaps, the quintessential example of the way yoga helps us decompress. It’s often used as a resting pose or counter-pose to backbends and inversions, allowing our spinal column to relax and inducing a sense of both physical and spiritual surrender. Each time our forehead rests on the earth, it signals the body it’s time for rest, peace, and quiet.

Yoga balances our mind – In addition to treating our body with care, yoga teaches us to befriend and quiet the dancing/monkey mind. As we cultivate presence and compassion, we’re able to hone in on the actions we can take right now, in this moment. Yoga allows us to ease our frantic mind, and forget about our long to-do lists for the duration of the class. Whether we’re holding a pose or flowing through a sequence, yoga teaches us to focus.  We become as some athletes call in ‘the zone’. In other words, everything else fades away and we become one with the task at hand — i.e. yoga.

Yoga balances our nervous system – Whenever we experience stress, our nervous system begins to act up, stimulating high adrenaline and blood pressure levels. While necessary in some dangerous scenarios, this reaction can be chronic when triggered repeatedly. We use the breath as our guide in yoga. Instructors constantly remind their students (and themselves) to steady and deepen their breath, through controlled, and sometimes numbered, breath patterns. The process of learning to steady and deepen our breath allows our whole nervous system to calm down and feel peace. As yogis, we know the quickest way to the present moment is through the breath. This is a great lesson we can apply outside the studio when tough situations arise; focus on awareness of breath. Use the breath to calm yourself down and find the present moment. Even when we are facing the eye of the storm. 

Yoga helps us understand how our mind works – In my opinion, this is the most important point when it comes to long-term stress management. Most of our anxiety results from the way our minds operate to various challenges. The mind can help heal us or it can help cripple us. Yoga practice forces us into mindful awareness of the way in which we react to difficult situations. For example, when you find yourself in a tough place on your mat, do you immediately pull out of the pose? Do you push yourself harder? Do you get angry at the teacher? None of these responses are wrong or right. The point, rather, is that once you identify the way you respond to stress, you’ll be able to consciously choose a different response in the future – preparing yourself to fight back against stress and anxiety. 

As you see, yoga allows us to slow down and really tune in to our bodies, our mind, and our breath. By simply focusing on one thing, we’re able to decompress and relax. 

If you’re eager to reap these stress preventative benefits, why not try one of our gentle flow classes, which are our restorative and therapeutic classes – often meditation-based. But don’t think that you can’t learn to balance your body, mind, and nervous system in a hot flow class – because you absolutely can! 

If you’re new to the world of yoga, you could even try our NEW Wednesday night (9pm) community class for $5 to see what this whole stress-reducing practice is all about. Come on in and try a couple different classes – you totally flipping deserve it!
 

7 Common Yoga Mistakes & How to Fix Them

Our goal is to guide you throughout your yoga journey, helping you grow in strength, flexibility and mindfulness while preventing you from facing injury or discouragement. In this week’s blog we offer tips to help you avoid seven common yoga mistakes. Are you ready to get the most out of your yoga practice?

Mistake #1: Comparing yourself to your neighbor

One of the most effective ways to get injured or discouraged is looking at your neighbor and trying to mirror their pose or stretch. All of us have different body types and skill sets. The person on the mat next to you might be a former ballerina or athlete; they might have years of yoga experience under their belts; or they might be naturally flexible. Yoga is a personal journey, so there’s no reason you should be comparing yourself to anyone else.

Pro-Tip: When you find yourself trying to bend into a pose that your neighbor can do, take a moment to close your eyes, focus on your breathing and center yourself again. Remember, yoga is not about measuring your level of performance. It is about harnessing the energy to tame the mind and shedding our negative behavior and patterns.

Mistake #2: Comparing your body to the way it was 20 years ago, 2 weeks ago, or even yesterday

Remember when you were eight years old? You could practically do a cartwheel and wheel pose in your sleep. Your body moved where you wanted it to without even thinking about it. But that was when you were younger – before you sat in a desk for hours straight, or had a child of your own, experienced an injury or had a life full of stress, bills and interpersonal relationships. We carry stress and trauma deep within the tissues of the body. Limiting our movement and our mind.

Pro-Tip: Take a moment before class to meditate on the phrase: “Here I am. This is where I’m at with my body and strength today.” Always try to meet yourself where you are at – in the now.

Mistake #3: Pushing your body to do too much

Yoga beginners often mistakenly think that it will be a piece of cake. Maybe they’ve been exercising or playing sports for years. Although certain yoga poses seem simple, it’s best to listen carefully to your teacher’s instructions and ease into the practice without looking for an edge. Going slow and moving to the point of sensation as a newbie. It’s easy to fall prey to questions like “Why can’t I touch my toes yet?” or “Why is this not getting any easier?” The beauty of yoga is that it benefits you on many levels. Maybe you can’t touch your toes yet, but instead you’ve learned to modify to a better plank or breathe more effectively.

Pro-Tip: Take the most modified pose you can do correctly, in order to create strength and proper alignment rather than creating negative habits. Engage as many muscles by hugging the muscles to the bone throughout the entire practice. Instead of going deep, go strong.

Mistake #4: Practicing inconsistently

You know that feeling right after you finish a yoga class? You feel open, relaxed and focused – you can’t wait to come back for another one. But all of us lead busy lives and eventually our work, social life and family responsibilities begin to interfere. When you finally do return to class, you’ve lost what you thought you had gained. Don’t worry!! The mat is always there for you to build your strength and flexibility. The key is being ready. When you are ready to get consistent, your body will gradually open up, strengthen and move further into the poses. It just takes time and patience.

Pro-Tip: Commit to practicing yoga twice a week, even if that occasionally means rolling the mat out in your own basement and sitting in a seated position for meditation. Build a relationship with your mat. It can quickly become a good friend, guide and safe zone.

Mistake #5: Holding your breath

We often see students failing to let their breath lead them through the sequences or even holding it completely, especially during the more advanced poses. Forgetting to breathe consistently is a negative habit that causes anxiety and stress, exactly the opposite effect we seek in yoga.

Pro-Tip: Focus on your slow, deep inhales and exhales throughout the whole yoga class. (PS: read our recent blog post on how to breathe in yoga)

Mistake #6: Taking classes that are too advanced

If you’re a beginner to yoga, you really should look into trying a few slow or gentle flow classes first. These offer the opportunity to learn the poses, discover yogic breath and become comfortable within the practice. However, even the more advanced students would benefit from remembering the positive effects of slowing it down once in awhile.

Pro-Tip: Mix a few slow, gentle or restorative classes into your yoga routine. Check out our Restorative Workshop April 30, 2017 – Align & Relax – 90 minutes of restorative yoga for $20

Mistake #7: Failing to disclose medical/physical conditions

When you visit many of our classes at Yoga Fever, you’ll hear your teacher ask if there are any injuries or medical conditions he or she should be aware of. Students often feel embarrassed or too shy to speak up here. Your teachers want to know these issues so they can craft a restorative practice that won’t endanger your body.

Pro-Tip: Yoga is therapeutic. An experienced, intelligent teacher will help you overcome these injuries. Speak up!

What is the Significance of 108 in Yoga?

Why the number 108?

The number 108 is considered a sacred number in Hinduism, Buddhism and yogic tradition. Malas or Japa beads come in a string of 108 and are used for devotional meditation, mantra and prayer. With each bead a mantra or prayer is repeated to meet a total of 108. The Meru bead is the larger bead or tassel on the mala and is not part of the 108. This is the guiding bead and marks the beginning and end of the mala/chant/prayer/mantra.

Yoga Fever will offer 108 Sun Salutations or Surya Namaskar A to celebrate our transition into Spring. Spring is a season of phenomenal renewal. The earth awakens from its slumber and blossoms into new life, new beginnings and new awareness. It is a great time to reflect on health and well being. Together we will flow and breathe to become one body, one heart and one mind.

Here are a few interpretations of the significance of the number 108.

  • Sanskrit alphabet has 54 letters. Each letter has a masculine (Shiva) and feminine (Shakti) energy 54 X 2 = 108
  • Desires. There are said to be 108 earthly desires in mortals.
  • Time. It is said we have 108 feelings. 36 related to the past, 36 related to the present, and 36 related to the future.
  • Astrology. There are 12 constellations and 9 arc segments. There are 12 houses and 9 planets. 12 X 9 = 108
  • The diameter of the sun is 108 times the earth.

Please join us in studio to become one. One Mind. One Body. One Spirit. Check back for more offerings of 108 Sun Salutes